Tuesday, 30 June 2009
I met him once. At Uri Geller’s wedding. God knows I have got some conversational mileage, over the years, out of attending that strange occasion - but you can hardly blame me for thinking about it again now.
My dad got invited to Uri Geller’s wedding, because they had the same publisher. They had met a few times. My dad didn’t know Uri Geller very well. But I caught a glimpse of the invitation as he was slipping it quietly over towards the bin, and I shrieked that if he did not accept that wedding invitation and take me with him, he could consider himself, henceforth, daughterless.
And so we went. It was awfully odd. Michael Jackson was best man. But he was late, as he was doing an appearance (I think at the Oxford Union) in the morning and there was a problem with the helicopter. So the pre-wedding drinks went on FOR HOURS. This was a problem for Hello! magazine, as they didn’t have quite enough celebrities to fill up the interviewing hours. They went through Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, Nigel Mansell, Patti Boulaye and Hilary Jones the GMTV doctor. Eventually, after about two hours, they wandered over to my dad.
“I barely know Uri Geller”, my dad explained, “but my daughter wanted to meet Michael Jackson. And I thought, since she’s over 12 now, it would probably be safe enough.”
As the interviewer backed away, horrified, I said to my dad, “Have you ever seen Hello! magazine? I don’t think that’s what they were looking for.”
Anyway, Michael Jackson turned up eventually, on crutches. I say “met him”, I didn’t do much more than say hi as he walked past, and ask if he had found the ceremony baffling, and he said “No it was lovely” (or something like that) and hobbled off into his helicopter and flew away.
It is awfully sad that he died. Poor Michael Jackson. Nevertheless, hearing the news in Las Vegas… well, I’d be lying if I said the coverage was understated. Everyone on the TV is in tears. Literally everyone. Switch on the news and all you see is sobbing newscasters talking to sobbing chat show hosts, sobbing fans, sobbing local reporters and sobbing cardiologists. Medical experts sob through the possible causes of death, famiy lawyers sob about who might get custody of the children. They keep describing the man himself as “the true heart and soul of Las Vegas”. On the day the news was released, they kept showing montages of him to dirge-like music, then talking about his faith in God, his charity work, his great munificence, sobbing again, and cutting to another montage. You would think Saint Jerome had died. Or everyone’s mother.
And, sad and shocked though I was to hear the news, after three weeks in Vegas I can’t deny that I felt a shiver of homesickness for my damp, sarcastic, cynical home town when I got a text from a friend in London saying, simply, “R. I. Paedo.”